30 March 2008

Finishing Well

Yesterday marked Andrew's last day as an employee of the Field Museum. It's been just over 4 years since he first walked across that great Stanley Field Hall, indebted to the details, deadlines and demands that would cripple under his artistic talent. I would say it has been a mutually beneficial relationship, though not without its challenges.

I am proud of Andrew's dedication and commitment to a job well done. He has truly cared about his work, the institution and its community. I am not only impressed when I see his exhibits on display, but I am as equally humbled and proud when I witness the respect and dignity with which he treats those around him--anyone from guests, to colleagues, to security guards, to elevator operators. It is these qualities that truly make him a success.

And so, it is with mixed feelings that we bid farewell to the Field Museum. It's been real. More to come on Andrew's next endeavors!

28 March 2008

Warning: Blood and Guts

Once a year the Field Museum opens up its front doors, and its many back doors, to all museum members. This offers the museum's supporters an opportunity to see what "really goes on" behind the scenes. The staff is on hand to answer questions, explain what they do and how they do it, and give exclusive viewings of their many artifacts, specimens and samples. The grosser the better if you ask me. This year they dissected a bobcat (top photo, obviously) for all who could stomach the bloody mess and equally disturbing smell. They dissect animals who die of natural (or not so natural, in this case) causes. Unfortunately for this little kitty, he was hit by a car. I wish for the bobcat's sake that they had come up with a far nobler story to explain his untimely demise.

27 March 2008

Matt & Annie

I've been friends with Matt and his twin sister, Jessica, since junior year of high school. Over the years our families have become friends and they are the kind of people I know I'll never lose touch with. And so, this past weekend, we headed out to West Palm Beach for Matt and Annie's wedding. It was a great time to relax, escape Chicago weather, see my parents, reconnect with old high school friends and celebrate a new marriage.

The Party Bus. Yep, it's a party on a bus.

Jess and Amy

No comment.

Emily and Jessica (sisters of the groom)

Speaking of the groom...

His lovely bride, Annie

Maid of Honor, Becky

Oceanside reception at the Hilton

Their first dance was to The Luckiest by Ben Folds Five, except that it was really Matt singing. He surprised Annie (and the rest of us) and recorded himself. Wish I had that on video...

17 March 2008

Just because it's St. Patrick's Day...

A man stumbles up to the only other patron in a bar and asks if he can buy him a drink. "Why of course," comes the reply. The first man then asks, "Where are you from?" "I'm from Ireland," replies the second man. The first man responds, "You don't say! I'm from Ireland too! Let's have another round to Ireland." "Of course," replies the second man. Curious, the first man then asks, "Where in Ireland are you from?" "Dublin," comes the reply. "I can't believe it," says the first man. "I'm from Dublin too! Let's have another drink to Dublin." "Of course," replies the second man. Curiosity again strikes and the first man asks, "What school did you go to?" "Saint Mary's," answers the second man. "I graduated in '62." "This is unbelievable!" the first man says. "I went to Saint Mary's and I graduated in '62 too!" About that time, in comes one of the regulars. "What's going on?" he asks the bartender. "Nothing much," replies the bartender. "The O'Malley twins are drunk again."

13 March 2008

Mandolin 1 Rep

Well, I'm back at it. After a brief holiday/winter hiatus, I have resumed my mandolin lessons and have started the next class, Mandolin 1 Rep, at the Old Town School of Folk Music. At the end of 8 weeks, I hope to have expanded my repertoire, improved my picking skills and beefed up my calluses. And if all that fails, at least it will be spring.

The dynamics of this class are quite different: there are 12 students on the roster as opposed to a mere 3, and we meet for an additional 20 minutes (believe me, my fingers can feel the difference). I'm pretty sure that Mandolin 1 Rep is going to be the make-it-or-break-it factor in my mandolin career. There are definitely more experienced people in my class this time, and while it's good to have those to push you along, it's hard not to think of them as pushing you around. Every once in awhile, my competitive spirit kicks in and I think, I'm gonna do this thing, gosh darn it, no matter how much I have to practice. And then, in the next breath... argh, who am I kidding? I'm sure this battle is not unique to those learning something new. Sure, there are naturals, but most people are like me, right? This is the question I struggle with: do I have that special "something" beyond dedication, determination and practice (assuming I have those, of course), that will truly make me a decent musician? Is there a "something" at all? And if so, is it necessary for any functional musician, or is that "something" merely what separates the great musicians from the good ones? I guess when it comes down to it, I just want to know if it's possible for me. If I knew that, I would avoid the risk of wasting time and money. So, I guess I'm looking for a safe way to be a rock star without taking the risk of wasting anything. Boohoo.

This post sounds like the revealing ramblings of someone in therapy. That wasn't my intent, and despite what it may sound like, these thoughts aren't keeping me up at night. However, this does teach me some things about myself and our society, namely, I (we) expect FAST results and I (we) don't want to sacrifice a lot to get them. Of course, I need only look at the great artists of this age and those of ages past to realize how those expectations can only set me up for failure. So, I will play on.

03 March 2008

1 + 1

Perhaps the only thing better than seeing two of your dearest friends get married is to see them marry each other. Andrew and I feel honored not just to have been a part of Sarah and TK's wedding, but to be a part of their lives. The wedding day exemplified all that a wedding should be: a beautiful, inspirational manifestation of love and commitment, and a vivid reminder of the blessing of friendship... truly the stuff of life.